Sunday 14 October 2007

Las Vegas Trip - April 2007

Las Vegas Trip - April 2007
By Mick McCloskey

I have just got back from a trip to Las Vegas where things are for ever changing. New hotel towers are under construction at The Wynn and Venetian casinos and, when completed, will make The Venetian the world’s biggest hotel. That is until some other Strip property goes one bigger.
I stayed Downtown, where the pace of change is a little less noticeable. Binion’s has been spruced up a little but remains essentially the same. Across the road, some major renovations have taken place at The Golden Nugget, including a brand new poker room. You can also take the opportunity to play with the sharks or swim with the fishes, literally. New at the Nugget is a giant tank containing sharks and various varieties of fish. You can actually enter the tank by sliding through a long Perspex tube under the water, past the sharks and out the other side.
Over in Binions, it is surprising who you can run into playing in the small daily tournaments. I had just taken my seat for the start of the $10K guaranteed event when I noticed a familiar face approaching my table. It was none other than 2005 WSOP Pot Limit Hold’em Champion Brian “The Rookie” Wilson. I first met Brian in October 2005 when we sat beside each other all day at one of the support events for that year’s EPT tournament in Dublin. Now here we were again at the same table, with some poor guy stuck between us having to listen to all the chat going on from both sides. Also playing the event was legendary WSOP tournament supervisor John “Schof” Sheffield. I introduced the two guys to each other during the first break and eventually found the pair of them waiting for me at the bar when I got eliminated from the tournament. The following day’s hangover told its own tale about what happened next!
Brian was in town to play in a WSOP Circuit event in Caesars Palace and also to do some commentary work when he was eliminated. He also told me that he was planning to spend about a year living in England so that he could play on the European circuit for a while. Brian has a lot of friends among European players, including his mentor, Dave Colclough. I look forward to meeting up with Brian again during his European tour.
I also shared a couple of tables in Binions with another WSOP star, namely Leif Force, who finished 11th in the 2006 main event, cashing out for over 1 million dollars. Leif, who was also playing the circuit event at Caesars, told me that one of the first places he ever played live was Binions and that he has a soft spot for the old place and likes to play there when he can. He impressed me as a very nice guy and a very good poker player, cashing in both the tournaments I saw him in.
Moving onto bigger things, I managed a visit to the Bellagio to take in the final stages of the $25K buy-in WPT main event. The winner was ex WSOP Champion Carlos Mortensen with Finland’s Thomas Wahlroos placing 7th. England’s Roland de Wolfe also produced another fine performance, finishing in the top 30.

New Owner for WSOP?

As many of you may know, Harrahs has been taken over by a couple of large US finance and capital investment firms. Rumour has it round Las Vegas that the new owners are interested in selling off parts of their new acquisition and that Jack Binion is currently in negotiation with the owners to buy the Rio Casino and the rights to run the WSOP from 2008 on. This would be an excellent result for poker players everywhere, should it happen, as many were not impressed by Harrah’s’ stewardship of the WSOP. For the WSOP to return to Jack Binion, whose connection with poker is legendary, would be a dream come true for many. Watch this space for further developments.

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